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Comment Re:Sensory deprivation tanks (Score 4, Interesting) 332

Maybe longer would do it.

Yep, longer will do it, I'd find it very difficult to believe someone can go without sleep for five days without hallucinating. I worked on a fishing trawler in the southern ocean. Every voyage lasted about 3 days. That's no sleep for 70+ hours, 30-35 of them working straight through to fill the hold, only stopping for 30 min every 5hrs to get something to eat, the other half of the time was normally spent holding on for dear life in the "roaring forties" between the Islands and the mainland

Driving home in twilight on a country road after my first voyage, a row of white goblins suddenly ran single file across the highway, they were about 3 foot tall with one big red "Cyclops" eye that took up their entire face . They kept coming out of the thick scrub all in neat single file, every one of them looking straight at me, running for their lives and showing no signs of breaking formation even though I'm driving straight at them at 100km/h.

I hit the brakes even though I kept telling myself in my head that it wasn't real, I hadn't yet realised I was hallucinating and could not work out what the fuck was going on, and whatever they were I certainly didn't want to hit them. I noticed that as I slowed down so did the "goblins", when I was nearly stopped I just as "suddenly" realised it was the row of white guide posts with the red reflectors that you get on hazardous stretches of highway. They appeared to be running across the road because I was approaching a long right hand bend. I hadn't been looking at where the goblins were going until I was almost stopped. What was left of my attention was focused on where the goblins were coming from. As soon as I looked to the left to see where they were going, it broke the illusion.

It was only then I realised I had been hallucinating. Further down the road on that 30 minute trip I saw a large "beast" on a semi trailer. it looked a bit like an elephant or a hippo lying on it's back with it's legs straight up and in chains, before I could put a finger on what type of animal it was it morphed into a log truck carrying two stacks of short logs. A bit further down the road there was a (very fat) aborigine sitting under a tree at the side of the road sporting a loin cloth and yellow corroboree spots on his body, that turned out to be a large lichen covered rock. As I was showering and crawling into bed someone kept speaking my name every few minutes.

I worked the boats for about 6 months (circa 1980), the goblins were the best but also the most disorientating. Once you realise what's going on and start expecting it to happen they don't seem to last as long or appear as frequently. Some people can sleep on a 60' fishing trawler in high seas, most can't, some of those (ordinary) people see really fucked up shit that stops them going out to sea again. Personally I quite enjoyed the audio and visual effects my brain throws back at me when it's protesting a lack of sleep. I can see why Alice was so curious about the rabbit hole, needless to say I got the wife to pick me up from the docks after that first voyage. I slept a solid 24hrs after every "trip", curiously about the same amount of sleep I had missed over the previous 3 days.

Comment Re:BULL CRAP! (Score 5, Interesting) 332

The solitary confinement scene in the movie "The Hurricane" gives a pretty good rendition of what it is like to go "stir crazy". If you want to try it out yourself just stay awake for 2-3 days. Weird sensation, you know the sound or vision is not real but it just won't go away, the visual ones are usually a real object that looks and "acts" like something else, usually something bizarre or impossible. Most of mine have been more comical than horrific, some can be downright helpful such as the "angels" who flew along either side of the wife's car, tapped on the window, and gently reminded her to open her eyes when she was nodding off at the wheel.

Hallucinations are normal, some have more than others. Probably the worst thing you can do is treat them as an illness (or demon).

Comment Re:Please allow me to propose a new site ... (Score 1) 174

No matter where you dump it - it will be a problem. Really nasty crap could be disposed of by packing it into (very) rugged barrels and dropping into a deep ocean trench, over times the waste will be sucked back into the Earth's mantle along with the ocean floor and everything on it. Japan has one such trench running along it's east coast. The problem with this solution is expense, governments will gladly spend trillions to create this scourge on humanity, but will bicker for decades about spending a few million to clean up the mess.

Also, as a self-proclaimed "greenie" since the 70's I see nothing wrong with hunting whales for food, it becomes a problem when they are hunted to the point of extinction. The Japanese factory ships are "bad PR", they take few whales but are a potent reminder of the bad old days, people in general are much less disturbed by natives doing the same thing in a deer skin canoe.

The environment ultimately provides everything for mankind, for example the Atlantic and North sea Cod fisheries have basically collapsed due to overfishing, it will be a century or more before they return to the bounty the provided to both the US and Europe during the 19th and early 20th century. Our oceans could be alive with fish again. If just 5% of the world's reefs were to become (patrolled) marine parks then the fishing industry might have something to do again in 10-20yrs. Having said that I've worked on a multi-million dollar fishing trawler in the "roaring 40's" (circa 1980), the owner is not interested in tomorrow, he wants to "Fill up the hold and feed his kids today!".

As for the Japan bashing, can I know your country of origin? Nothing personal, I just need someone to blame for all the fucked up shit that emanates from where ever you live.

Comment The Oracle (Score 3, Insightful) 50

Watson is planning to sit for his US medical license soon, next year IBM will be renting "instances" of Watson to independent developers. Since it beat the human Jeopardy champs a couple of years ago Watson has shrunk from 20 tons (including air-con) to a 50kg "beer fridge" running Linux, and it's also 2.6 times faster.

These machines are what IBM calls "cognitive computing", they can find answers in data that we didn't know were there. In Watsons case the data is general knowledge (AKA common sense), in this case the data is biomedical. There are lots of video's on you tube about Watson but most are cheesy IBM "what we can do for you" infomercials, the talks from the actual developers and the Jeopardy stunt are worth watching.

I know I keep banging on about IBM's Watson in my posts, and although I contracted to them in the 90's I'm not a shill, I'm a degree qualified computer scientist with 20+ yrs as a commercial developer. I was born the year after sputnik was launched, the technological and scientific progress in my lifetime is unparalleled in human history. I really believe that the "AI" developments we are seeing with HPC today are a revolution like none before, machines that are "smarter" than their creators. It already to the point that no major (physical) engineering project is conducted without the aid of computer models, in fact it's basically impossible to design a modern cpu with first having a modern cpu.

The ancient myth of the Oracle has come to life as a flat screen monitor, it will change everything in a single generation, hopefully in a good way.

Comment Re:Surprised people still use... (Score 1) 192

It's been said that "Males need sex to feel loved, females need to feel loved to have sex". Once you hit forty, that imbalance starts to even up, I'm in my 50's and it appears the roles may even be going into reverse! - In the interests of science I will keep posting my observations until my dick stops working altogether.

Comment Re:Surprised people still use... (Score 4, Interesting) 192

if you have trouble getting dates without online dating, you will probably have trouble online too.

Exactly, it's the modern day equivalent of a "dance hall", somewhere you go to meet the opposite sex. I started dating my first wife at a 1970's disco (I already knew her but not socially), I met my current lady friend in 2001 on a chat site.

A chat site gives you hints (in the persons profile) as to what you might use to start a conversation, but it takes away all the physical senses, the perfume, the eye-candy, the rubbing of thighs and butts on the dance floor. We old farts enjoy that stuff too, it's just not as attractive for spectators!

So when I found myself single again at 40, a web site was preferable than an "over 30's" Friday at a mega-pub. Also a lot more physically comfortable, since those places usually have the heaters turned up high to make the punters thirsty (also makes old farts sweat like a pigs). If you (male or female) can hold a conversation via text without coming across as desperate or depraved then there's no reason to be dateless on the weekend if you start typing on Thursday night..

My "wife" still chats to friends on the net, now that I have a partner the chat sites have served their purpose I'm about as interested in chat sites as I am sweaty discos, the only site I "chat" on these days is Slashdot, and I'm unlikely to meet a lot of women here ;)

Comment Re:Durability - big problem with many exotic surfa (Score 2) 78

Was reading about that the other day, the nano-spikes act to break up water droplets into smaller droplets allowing them to bounce off the surface more easily. The same principle also allows the droplets to slide off the surface more easily, useful for boats and planes. Shark skin has similar nano-scale surface geometry, allowing the shark to move faster with less energy. With dragonflies it's apparently the network of ultra-fine capillaries on the wings that does the same job as the spikes.

As you say if it could be made as a durable paint all sorts of industries will be beating your door down to throw money at you, even the plumbing industry would be interested since they have problems with bacterial slime coating the inside of pipes, slime that even chlorine will not shift.

Comment Re: To hire specific people (Score 1) 465

I was born in the 50's if that counts, I've also hired at least 50 programmers from ~200 interviews during the 90's, all but one turned out ok . Paying engineers to sift through hundreds of resumes for one job has always been an expensive and pointless exercise. I've only ever seen it done by small companies who have few staff and no money, These days any small company with the money to hire an experienced engineer will normally employ a professional head hunting agency to filter the applicants down to a manageable 4-5 people that the engineer(s) / manager(s) can interview in person. Agencies are not cheap but unless you are big enough to have a HR department they are usually cheaper than doing it yourself.

Also, it's not HR who wants long lists of acronyms in the ads, the list is normally what the project manager gave them when they asked about the qualifications required for the job. The longer the list the more work for HR, HR managers are definitely NOT interested in spending more than $X to fill position Y and will sometimes ask the list be trimmed or split into "essential" and "desirable" skills.

The easy way around the advertised list is have a "technology used" list for each past job in your CV, if you don't have a required acronym just google it and then add it to one of the lists in your CV. If it really is essential for the job then you won't get past the interview with the project manager/engineers, but you will breeze past the HR filter and since there are way more rejections than interviews that's the part that most people have trouble dealing.

Many applicants believe that HR has an understanding of the job on offer, it normally doesn't have a clue, but that's ok because it's not HR's job to understand the tasks. It's job is to find people who claim to have experience with the task, check those claims by talking to ex-employers, check for a criminal behaviour, drugs, and other fashionable social taboos, and then send the people who pass this basic "sniff test" to the project manager for a closer look. HR will also normally put a ceiling on the number of applicants they look at and will have some financially driven rule such as pick the best five out of the first 200 resumes received. If none of the five are suitable in the eyes of the project manager, then readvertise with different wording rather than comb through the applications that missed the first cut.

Comment Re:Should be legal, with caveat (Score 1) 961

the fact is Adams is a multi-millionaire several times over and could easily afford to subsidize his father's care

His point is that $8k/month is buying institutionalised torture, I'm sure he would not feel this way if someone had actually cared about his father's well being.

Compassionate doctor's all over the planet will turn up the morphine until it either kills the pain or the patient, they just can't call it "euthanasia" so you have to read between the lines when they talk to you about "suffering". Money tends to attract less compassionate doctors who may be tempted to keep you alive until their new bathroom is paid for.

Comment Re:Deep Learning (Score 4, Interesting) 152

Indeed. Personally I think IBM's "Watson" is the most impressive technological feat I have witnessed since I watched the moon landings 40-odd years ago, I fully realise few people share my amazement. The visual aspect means NEIL is tackling a far more difficult problem than deducing "common sense" from text alone. I wasn't impressed by the web site when I found it last week, but as a "proof of concept" it does the job admirably.

I may be wrong but I believe all three (Watson, NEIL, and the cat thingy) are based on the same general "learning algorithm" (neural networks, specifically RBM's). What they do is find patterns in data, both the entities (atomic and compound) and the relationships. The "training" comes in two types, feeding it specific facts to correct a "misconception" it has formed, labelling the entities and relationship it found so a human can make sense of it.

What the cat project did was train a neural net to recognise a generic cat by showing it pictures of cats and pictures of non cats. It could then categorise random pictures as either cat or not-cat, until fairly recently the problem has always been - How do I train the same AI to recognise (say) dogs without destroying it's existing ability to recognise cats.

Disclaimer: I knew the math of neural nets well enough 20yrs ago to have passed a CS exam. I never really understood it in the way a I understand (say) geometry but I know enough about AI and it's ever shifting goal posts to be very impressed by Watson's Jeopardy stunt. To convincingly beat humans at a game of general knowledge really is a stunning technological milestone that will be remembered long after 911 goes back to being just a phone number.

Comment Re:its not learning (Score 3, Interesting) 152

Coincidentally I came across the NEIL site last week, I think it has a long way to go before it can beat IBM's Watson on general knowledge (AKA "common sense"). Watson also gets it's raw information from the net, it categorises entities and discovers relationships between them. The difference is that Watson is not so much trained as it is corrected. Not unlike a human it can get a fundamental relationship or category wrong and that leads to all sorts of side-effects. In the Jeopardy stunt they realised that humans had a slight advantage because they were informed when the other players made a right/wrong answer. When they gave Watson the same capability it was able to correctly identify the Jeopardy categories and then went on to convincingly beat the humans at their own game.

Computers are already better at "general knowledge" than humans despite the fact the "computer" needs 20 tons of air-conditioning to keep it running. The first time I saw the Jeopardy stunt it blew me away, my wife shrugged and said "So it's looking the answers up on the net. What's the big deal?". I can understand that from her since she has a Phd in marketing, what I don't understand is why most slashdotter's are similarly unimpressed? - I watched Armstrong land on the moon as a 10 year old boy but I think the history books will eventually give similar historical weight to Watson.

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